From its humble beginnings over twenty years ago in a Darlinghurst cafe, Tropfest short film festival attracted a crowd of over a 100, 000 film lovers to its screening beneath the stars in Sydney’s The Domain. The line-up of 16 finalist films featured the work of a mixed-bag of both amateur film makers and the professionally trained, consolidating Tropfest’s reputation as a launch pad for home-grown creatives to international industry success.
This year’s top prize was taken out by Victorian-based film-maker Nicholas Clifford for his film We’ve All Been There (watch it here). Telling a feel-good story that connected three strangers through their acts of kindness, it was the first instance in a few years that a winning film ventured away from hilarity (check out these ridiculously hysterical winners from 2012, 2011, and 2010) to warm its viewers’ hearts. Unlike some of the festival’s past winners, Clifford is no newbie on the film scene. He has been trained in film at the Australian Film, Television and Radio School (AFTRS) as well as at RMIT, entered the festival in 2009 and 2011, worked on a TV series in Beijing and owns a production company Truce Films. He created We’ve All Been There in collaboration with a team of three producers. Taking out first place in the 2013 festival is a shot in the arm of Nicholas Clifford’s film career. He took home a brand new Toyota, $10,000 in prize money and a heavy-duty Nikon camera; but perhaps the most exciting prize for someone bursting to crack the film industry is the trip to LA where Clifford will attend a week of meetings with top film executives.
Second place went to the only documentary to make it to the finals, Better Than Sinatra, which followed a Sydney-based retiree who took to the streets to dance along to the tunes of buskers – and moved the judges so much that they announced a new prize category in his honour, ‘Best Personality’, and awarded the dancing man Raymond Borzelli with $3,000 straight from the pockets of the judging panel. Third place went to Punctured, a gorgeous animated offering that told a delightful dystopian tale in muted pastel illustrations, and proved that this year’s festival was all about pulling on the heart strings.
Just as the incredible prizes got aspiring film-makers salivating and the creative cogs turning for future festival hopefuls, some exciting announcements for the next Tropfest were made. The Tropfest Signature Item, essentially the festival theme that must be included somewhere in every entry, was announced as “change”. Meanwhile, prospective entrants were given a tighter-than-usual timeframe to get cracking on their films, as it was announced that next Tropfest will be brought forward to December 8, 2013. The date change aims to better coordinate with the international film calendar, and also dodge the unpredictable rainy weather of a late Sydney summer. A venue upgrade was also announced, the festival moving as of December to Sydney’s Centennial Parklands to better accommodate for growing numbers of festival goers.
So if you think you’ve got what it takes to be a Tropfest finalist, it’s time to put pen to paper and polish that camera lens – the 22nd Tropfest International Film festival ain’t all that far away! For more info, check out the Tropfest website here.